The blind will see. Scientists have learned to restore sight to those who could not see since childhood

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Blind Scientists have learned how to restore sight to those who could not see since childhood

Scientists are shocked by the results of a new treatment that restores sight.

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The human brain is still able to amaze scientists with its ability to adapt and rebuild itself. In a new study, scientists have found a way to restore vision in a form of congenital blindness. So far, the experiments have been carried out only on mice, but the results of the study are encouraging, writes Science Alert.

A team of neuroscientists at the University of California, Irvine conducted a study in mice that modeled a rare, inherited human retinal disease known as Leber's congenital amaurosis (LCA). This disease causes blindness or severe visual impairment from birth. It is believed to be caused by a mutation in any of the dozens of genes associated with the retina and its sensitivity to light.

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Scientists from the LCA have been studying different methods of treating damaged retinal photoreceptors for several decades. Some treatments have included implants in this part of the eye, others have involved intervention and gene editing, and still others have involved drug treatment.

All of these methods have shown improvement in vision with varying degrees of success. However, the neuroscientists at the LCA consider synthetic compounds that target the retina to be the most promising treatment to date. Especially for those who suffer from mutations affecting rod photoreceptors (the back of the eye that perceives dim light).

In the course of the study, scientists have developed specialized neutrons that, using biochemical reactions, convert sensory light into electrical signals, which can be “read” by the rest of the brain.

In earlier studies, neuroscientists concluded that injecting these synthetic retinoids into the eye could partially compensate for vision loss. However, the scientists did not know how such a treatment could be applied to adults.

In their study, the scientists administered a synthetic retinoid to adult mice with congenital retinal damage for a week. The results showed that the treatment was successful and partially restored the photosensitivity of the animals over the next 27 days.

According to the results of the study, as early as 9 days after the administration of the synthetic retinoid, the optic nerve activated a much larger number of neurons in the visual cortex. In simple terms, the study shows that the central pathway that carries information from the eye to the visual cortex can be successfully, albeit partially, restored with this treatment, even in adults.

According to neuroscientist Sunil Gandhi, she and her colleagues were pleasantly surprised at how the treatment actually saved the brain cells associated with vision. So far, the studies have only been conducted on mice, but the results have led neuroscientists to suggest that a similar effect is possible for the human visual system.